Huddersfield Town secured a vital 2-1 victory over Bristol City this evening in the Sky Bet Championship, helping them move five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of tomorrow night’s fixtures.
Goals either side of half-time from Chris Willock and Karlan Grant secured the points for Danny Cowley’s side, who as well as easing relegation fears, dented Lee Johnson’s hopes of leading Bristol City into the play-offs.
Cowley watched his side play on the front-foot from the start in their last home fixture, but they surrendered to a 3-0 loss against Cardiff City after the Bluebirds opened the scoring around 30 minutes.
However, this evening, the Huddersfield performance rarely threatened to go the same way, with the Terriers on the offensive from the first whistle and leaving Johnson frustrated in the away dugout.
Emile Smith Rowe and Grant were linking up well with Willock, whilst the energy of Lewis O’Brien and selfless running of Harry Toffolo were causing the Robins problems.
Grant tested Bentley from range on 16 minutes, but that was the closest that either side came to opening the scoring early on, with Huddersfield often wasteful with their decisions in the final third.
The home side lost Jonathan Hogg to a knee injury around the half-hour mark, but his replacement, Trevoh Chalobah, only added to the energy and pace that Town were brining to the party.
Fraizer Campbell – given the nod over Steve Mounie in attack – should’ve opened the scoring after a floated Toffolo cross from the left found him, but his acrobatic attempt was the wrong option at the crucial moment.
The striker would then have a goal chalked out for offside and Smith Rowe’s deflected shot would strike the post, but a breakthrough wasn’t far away for Cowley’s side.
Smith Rowe broke from midfield, before feeding Willock on the right; the winger took a heavy touch inside but reached the ball and rifled an effort into the far corner of Bentley’s goal.
That was just what Cowley needed after an encouraging opening 39 minutes, and now his side had the bit between their teeth; Grant deflected a cross up into Bentley’s arms and forced Markus Henriksen into a brave block on the edge of the area.
After 45 minutes of limited Bristol City threat, the Terriers could’ve been forgiven for getting that little bit complacent heading into the break, but they were warned on the stroke of half-time as Famara Diedhiou rifled a low effort off Jonas Lossl’s post.
Johnson had his side back out early after, what you’d presume, was a dressing down at half-time, with Niclas Eliasson and Adam Nagy emerging to try and spark the Robins’ performance into life.
Again, Diedhiou threatened the Huddersfield lead within a minute of the restart, but the striker – under pressure from Toffolo – couldn’t direct a header on target.
Eliasson and Tommy Rowe had shots blocked, but despite an improved effort, the Robins were struggling to deal with Huddersfield’s attacking arsenal.
And, as the game ticked past the hour, Smith Rowe and Willock exchanged passes, with the former breaking into the area and drawing a foul from Nathan Baker.
Grant stepped up to convert the penalty despite Bentley’s best efforts, doubling Town’s lead and leaving Johnson’s side a mountain to climb as they stutter in the play-off race.
Nahki Wells almost hit back moments later but dragged his shot across Lossl’s goal, yet, Bristol City’s play was still sloppy.
As space began to open up for Huddersfield, Grant and Smith Rowe had chances to wrap up the points, but Bentley stood in the way of the first chance and the latter lifted the second over the bar.
Grant again went close on 77 minutes, but despite clever footwork opening up a shooting chance, the former Charlton Athletic man was off-target and dragging his shot wide.
Both sides were becoming lethargic as we moved into the final 10 minutes, but the energy of O’Brien was still driving Huddersfield forward as they looked to add the gloss to a fine performance; he fed Smith Rowe, who forced Bentley into a save, before pushing the rebound the wrong side of the post himself.
There would be no third despite Huddersfield’s best efforts, but this was a convincing performance and an impressive result against a Bristol City side who surely saw this as an opportunity to put the pressure on the top-six after defeats to Leeds and West Brom.
Diedhiou poked a lifeline in to unsettle the home crowd on 88 minutes after Jay Dasilva had headed at Lossl, but this proved to be an occasion for Huddersfield to apply the pressure at their end of the table.
They can watch Middlesbrough, Stoke City and Wigan Athletic in action tomorrow evening knowing their immediate work is done, with the bottom end of the table now equalling the summit’s unpredictability.
Full-time: Huddersfield Town 2-1 Bristol City.